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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 12802

Asian Century


Mr CHEESEMAN (Corangamite) (14:12): My question is to the Treasurer. How is the government making sure that the Australian economy and working people will be the winners in the Asian century?


Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:13): I thank the member for that question. This side of the House has a plan for the future—a positive plan for the future which is based on an understanding that there is a fundamental change in the global economic outlook: a shift in economic power from West to East. And that shift in economic power from West to East brings enormous possibilities for our country. If we put in place the right set of policies to maximise those opportunities, we will continue to grow strongly. We do that from a position of strength. We are the 12th largest economy in the world, up from 15th. Three places we have improved since this party has been in power. We are 11 per cent bigger than we were as an economy prior to the global financial crisis, while many other developed economies are still struggling to get back to where they were back in 2008.

We are in this position of strength to maximise the opportunities of the Asian century precisely because of the actions that we took back in 2008-09 to strengthen our economy. We know where the economy would have been if those opposite were in power: we would have gone into recession. We would have had many more people unemployed, and many more businesses would have hit the wall. We are in a position of strength right now precisely because the government got the economic settings right over the past five years.

In our response to the Asian century white paper we are getting the response right—yet again—for the future, to create the jobs of the future, to invest in education and innovation and research, to put in place the fundamental reforms that are required to lift the capacity of our economy. Unlike those opposite, we understand the importance of productivity growth, and the Prime Minister particularly understands how important investment in skills and education is in the Asian century. What we see is the high skilled, high-wage path forward—forward in the Asian century—not the low skilled, low-wage path that those opposite see.

Only last night they were in the parliament voting against bills to protect workers' entitlements. Their path to the future is lower wages and their path to the future is to attack the wages and working conditions of Australian workers. What we believe in is investing in our workforce; what they believe in is tearing it down. So what you can see is a fundamental approach here, a plan for the future, and what you see from those opposite is simply talking our economy down and being negative all of the time.